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Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better

ISBN: 978-1-118-23125-8
288 pages
September 2012, Jossey-Bass
Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better (1118231252) cover image

Rules for developing talent with disciplined, deliberate, intelligent practice

We live in a competition loving culture. We love the performance, the big win, the ticking seconds of the clock as the game comes down to the wire. We watch games and cheer, sometimes to the point of obsession, but if we really wanted to see greatness—wanted to cheer for it, see it happen, understand what made it happen—we’d spend our time watching, obsessing on, and maybe even cheering the practices instead. This book puts practice on the front burner of all who seek to instill talent and achievement in others as well as in themselves. This is a journey to understand that practice, not games, makes champions.

In this book, the authors engage the dream of better, both in fields and endeavors where participants know they should practice and also in those where many do not yet recognize the transformative power of practice. And it’s not just whether you practice. How you practice may be a true competitive advantage. Deliberately engineered and designed practice can revolutionize our most important endeavors. The clear set of rules presented in Practice Perfect will make us better in virtually every performance of life. The “how-to” rules of practice cover such topics as rethinking practice, modeling excellent practice, using feedback, creating a culture of practice, making new skills stick, and hiring for practice.

  • Discover new ways to think about practice. Learn how to design successful practice. Apply practice across a wide range of realms, both personal and professional
  • The authors include specific activities to jump-start practice
  • Doug Lemov is the best-selling author of Teach Like a Champion

A hands-on resource to practice, the rules within will help to create positive outliers and world-changing reservoirs of talent.

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Foreword by Dan Heath xi

Preface: Why Practice? Why Now? xv

Introduction: The Power of Practice 1

RETHINKING PRACTICE 21

Rule 1 Encode Success 25

Rule 2 Practice the 20 29

Rule 3 Let the Mind Follow the Body 32

Rule 4 Unlock Creativity . . . with Repetition 36

Rule 5 Replace Your Purpose (with an Objective) 40

Rule 6 Practice “Bright Spots” 44

Rule 7 Differentiate Drill from Scrimmage 48

Rule 8 Correct Instead of Critique 52

HOW TO PRACTICE 55

Rule 9 Analyze the Game 58

Rule 10 Isolate the Skill 62

Rule 11 Name It 66

Rule 12 Integrate the Skills 68

Rule 13 Make a Plan 72

Rule 14 Make Each Minute Matter 76

USING MODELING 83

Rule 15 Model and Describe 86

Rule 16 Call Your Shots 87

Rule 17 Make Models Believable 92

Rule 18 Try Supermodeling 95

Rule 19 Insist They “Walk This Way” 96

Rule 20 Model Skinny Parts 99

Rule 21 Model the Path 101

Rule 22 Get Ready for Your Close-up 104

FEEDBACK 107

Rule 23 Practice Using Feedback (Not Just Getting It) 109

Rule 24 Apply First, Then Reflect 114

Rule 25 Shorten the Feedback Loop 117

Rule 26 Use the Power of Positive 121

Rule 27 Limit Yourself 126

Rule 28 Make It an Everyday Thing 128

Rule 29 Describe the Solution (Not the Problem) 130

Rule 30 Lock It In 133

CULTURE OF PRACTICE 139

Rule 31 Normalize Error 143

Rule 32 Break Down the Barriers to Practice 148

Rule 33 Make It Fun to Practice 154

Rule 34 Everybody Does It 159

Rule 35 Leverage Peer-to-Peer Accountability 162

Rule 36 Hire for Practice 165

Rule 37 Praise the Work 169

POST-PRACTICE: MAKING NEW SKILLS STICK 173

Rule 38 Look for the Right Things 176

Rule 39 Coach During the Game (Don’t Teach) 180

Rule 40 Keep Talking 183

Rule 41 Walk the Line (Between Support and Demand) 185

Rule 42 Measure Success 188

CONCLUSION: THE MONDAY MORNING TEST 193

Appendix A: Teaching Techniques from

Teach Like a Champion 205

Appendix B: Sample Practice Activities 229

Notes 241

Acknowledgments 245

About the Authors 249

Summary of Rules 251

Index 255

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Doug Lemov is the author of the bestselling book, Teach Like a Champion. He was a managing director at Uncommon Schools and now directs their project on effective teaching practices.

Erica Woolway is the chief academic officer for the Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices at Uncommon Schools.

Katie Yezzi is the founding principal of Troy Prep Elementary School in New York.

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"Learning to practice, this book vividly illustrates, takes time and effort, trial and error. It won't happen tomorrow. But even a small movement in the direction of more practice will reap benefits...." (The Washington Post's 'Class Struggle' blog, October 2012)

"Practice Perfect is a valuable read for everyone who wants to help their employees grow and excel through practice." (Examiner.com, October 2012)

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TeachLikeAChampion.com: Visit Doug Lemov's new blog to learn more about his ongoing work, as well as sign up for a free e-newsletter!
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